Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We owned a home at Katama for over 20 years before moving to Sarasota, Fla. We are experiencing the same problem that you are now experiencing on the Vineyard. Not only have our premiums been rising, but the insurance companies like State Family Allstate and Liberty Mutual are not only increasing premiums, they are not renewing policies. We have not had a windstorm here for two years, but my homeowner policy went up 100 per cent. And we live four miles inland. The insurance companies keep asking for increases and the legislature here keeps approving them.

If you live on the water, you can’t afford to live here. Sarasota has close ties with the Vineyard in that there are about a dozen Vineyard people living here, some year round and some seasonal. Ask them how much their insurance has gone up in the last year.

You are witnessing a problem going on up and down the East and West Coasts. The insurance companies are taking advantage of Katrina and Louisiana insurance losses as well as the numerous lawsuits they are receiving. Are they losing money? No! The lawsuits go on for years and money is put in reserves to pay losses. While this money is in reserve they are making money on it. They claim this money sitting in reserves is not taxable because it is to pay claims. They also carry reinsurance for large losses.

Nobody is investigating how much money the insurance companies claim to be losing. The money is hidden in reserves for claims and making money for them.

I don’t know what four hurricanes Mr. O’Leary said occurred in Florida last year. I must have slept through them all. We have an assigned risk type plan to help homeowners who have no insurance, but the premiums on that are high also. I don’t know of any Florida hurricane catastrophe plan to help homeowners. Only FEMA does that, and you know how well they handle things. Oh yes I forgot, you mean during Hurricane Charley three years ago, President Bush and his brother Jeb, the governor, were photographed handing out bottled water.

Unless you investigate insurance company practices, you will have to pay the price for wanting to live near the water. People are moving out of Florida to the Carolinas in order to get away from the property taxes and high insurance rates. Good luck to all my fiends on the Vineyard.

Tony Iannacone

Sarasota, Fla.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School principal Margaret (Peg) Regan.

As the former art teacher at the high school (1970 to 1980) as well as having had our two children graduate from that school, I know personally both the value of its art curricula and the temptation to use them as an area in which to make budget cuts.

I saw a number of students, some of them without other avenues to achievment, flourish in the Minnesingers, chorus, band and dramatic productions, all strongly (indeed gratefully) supported by a community well aware that our high school has a special responsibility to represent a wider cultural life to its young people.

The Vineyard has a long tradition of interest in drama and theatre, and has produced at least as many artists of one sort or another — people who continue throughout their lives art interests fostered in school — as it has career athletes, with obvious implications! But unilaterally cutting the athletic program to solve general budget problems would be as unwise as singling out art programs for fund cuts.

Let me say it again: The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School must be to our small Island as a university can be to a town; it must represent the imaginative life to people whose horizons, through no fault of their own, may be limited. The principal of such a school has a duty not to deal with budgetary (or any other) problems in too narrow a context. You have done a fine job at the high school, but in this case, as so many administrators before you in the same situation have had to do, please think again.

Edward Hewett

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

While I respect Jeff Sayre of West Tisbury and the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association for taking a stand against the practice of yo-yo jigging for striped bass, I take issue with one aspect of Mr. Sayre’s letter to the editor. In the letter it states one of the purposes of the association is “to see and protect access to fishing areas of Martha’s Vineyard.” Maybe Mr. Sayre should apply this statement to the town beach of Lambert’s Cove. Surely a town-owned public beach should be open to everyone. End beach apartheid.

Erik Albert

Oak Bluffs